Smartly using Facebook to gain exposure and grow an email list

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Things we love: Smartly using Facebook to gain exposure and grow an email list

How the Thunderbird Inn and Travel Retro cross-promote their brands and gain new fans

Mallory Hullby Mallory Hull, Agency Relations | August 19th, 2011 | 

I’m a big fan of modern-day time traveling (I may or may not be currently seeking a DeLorean). But until I’m able to dial myself back to 1961, I take comfort in knowing that the Thunderbird Innis ready for me whenever I’d like to make a reservation for “fifty years ago.” The Thunderbird Inn is a retro roadside motel billed as “the hippest hotel in Savannah.” It’s no stretch to imagine that simply checking in would transplant me into a universe of Beach Boys music, poodle skirts and dry martinis.

I’m not alone — in fact, we road-tripping time travelers are own niche. And organizations are springing up to serve us. Take Travel Retro, for example, a newer travel site for folks in search of that nostalgic feeling. They’re the “Expedia” of vintage travel accommodations.

Travel Retro and the Thunderbird Inn: a match made in heaven, right? If I like one, I’m sure to be interested in the other. But how can they take advantage of their natural kinship?

Brands can be great friends

Travel Retro and the Thunderbird recognized that they could gain fans by working together. They may have already been using some tried-and-true methods to grow their audience lists, like website signup forms, the old fishbowl by the register, and the like, but how could they gain subscribers that knew about one company but not the other? They turned to the most social of online spaces: Facebook.

The Thunderbird Inn encouraged their fans to “like” Travel Retro, and, in turn, Travel Retro shared the Thunderbird Inn’s email newsletter with their fans. Simple, but effective.


The Thunderbird Inn promotes Travel RetroThe Thunderbird Inn raved about Travel Retro. 


Travel Retro promotes the Thunderbird Inn.In turn, Travel Retro shared the T-Bird’s email campaign. 


I love this strategy. As a fan of the Thunderbird Inn, I’m happy to find out that a similar company “gets” me and my travel preferences. But if weren’t a fan of the Thunderbird, I may never have discovered Travel Retro.

How can you incorporate these tactics in your social strategy? Is there a company in your industry that’d make a natural partner? You may be surprised at how willing other companies are to align with you and cross-promote. Here are a few questions to ask yourself while you seek the right partners…

How can you find a partner brand to help grow your email list or Facebook fan base?

  • Consider brands you’re already working with that fuel your business. Maybe it’s your coffee supplier or even the bike delivery service in town. It’s likely there’s already an overlap of some fans — by nature of your location or business practices — and the potential for more.
  • Check with your sister stores and affiliate groups. Does it make sense to partner during certain times of year, such as leading up to your annual fundraiser? Do you have expert knowledge that would appeal to one of the groups?
  • Ask your loyal customers where else they frequent. Odds are the things they love about your business are some of the same reasons they go to other businesses.

How can you make the most out of cross-promotions?

  • Create a special signup form and audience group for these new subscribers.
  • Offer an incentive to join your list, like a coupon or a special downloadable resource.
  • Create a custom triggered welcome email to engage them right off the bat.
  • Be transparent about the partnership. Some partnerships are built on goodwill; others may involve an exchange of services. In either case, be honest with your fans. Let them know why you’re cross-promoting the other brand and what makes them so fabulous.

Of course, Facebook isn’t the only way you can work with partner brands to help one another grow. Try exchanging fishbowls in-store, making a call out to the Twitterverse, swapping ad spaces in your newsletters and more. If you could go back in time even just a year and lay the groundwork for these partnerships, think of how much more exposure you might have seen by now. On the other hand, one day you may find yourself wishing you could go back in time to today, so why not get started?

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